The AA Promises that Can Help Alcoholics Recover

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : November 14, 
| 4 Sources

What are the Themes Found within the AA Promises?

AA promises are started by Alcoholics Anonymous, a recovery program that alcoholics around the world have used and continue to use. It is self-supporting, multiracial, nonprofessional, apolitical, and available nearly everywhere. Many feel that the program is a vital part in the development of their recovery from addiction. It the most preferred source of help for alcohol addiction as well as alcohol-related problems in the U.S.

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are offered worldwide in a variety of languages. They are also available online for those who are unable to get to a meeting. For more information on alcoholics anonymous, please click the link.

The Alcoholics Anonymous program has several parts of their program that members are aware of and use. These include the 12 Steps, 12 Traditions and the AA promises.

The AA promises can be found in Chapter 6 of the big book. The exact page number can vary, depending on the language and print of the book you are using. Either way, Chapter 6 would be the place to look for them.

This Chapter of the book is usually associated with Step 9 of the 12 Steps. This would be the step that involves making amends for past behaviors. If attending meetings, you may also observe that the AA promises are often read at the conclusion of meetings.

What are the AA Promises?

The AA promises in Chapter 9 follow a passage. This can be found on pages 83-84 of the Big Book. The passage is as follows:

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.

We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”

Below are the AA Promises that can be found in the Big Book:

1. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.

  • Addiction is a smart and sneaky disease. It is time consuming and can be controlling. Anxiety and depressive symptoms are common among alcoholics in active addiction.This promise is among to instill hope for a better future.

2. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

  • As you work through the 12 Step program, you may notice that step work involves acknowledging and taking responsibility for past behaviors. A person may not be happy with the way they acted or the choices that they made, however regret can be detrimental for a person’s recovery. Regret tends to contribute to shame and guilt, which are common triggers for relapses.

3. We will comprehend the word serenity

  • Serenity is a word that can be heard often at an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting. The Serenity prayer is said at each meetings. The goal of serenity is recognizing what we can and cannot control. If we are unable to control something that is bothering us, working to “let it go” or “give it to you higher power” can lead to a sense of relief for an alcoholic.

4. We will know peace

  • Addiction can look and feel like chaos. And for some, this chaos can become comfortable and the norm.  This promise is referring to the lessening of the chaos and eventual peace that comes with a healthy recovery.

5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

  • A significant part of the Alcoholics Anonymous program is service. This can be helping get ready for a meeting, making the coffee or greeting people as they join the meeting. What individuals do for service will vary from person to person of course.

6. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.

  • A common experience among alcoholics working a healthy recovery program is that the negative feelings that they often feel in the beginning of their recovery journey begin to fade. Eventually, you will come to see that these feelings decrease over time.

7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.

  • This promise is referring to the way that we are viewed by others. Active addiction often leads individuals to act in ways that are atypical for them. These changes are often viewed negatively. When a person is in recovery, the negative behaviors tend to fade which can lead to a change in perception from other individuals. This can help improve relationships that were damaged in active addiction.

8. Self-seeking will slip away.

  • When individuals are in active addiction, it is common to be focused on your own interests and needs. The focus on self decreases as sobriety increases which can decrease guilt an alcoholic may feel.

9. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.

  • This promise speaks for itself. As you grow in your healthy recovery, things tend to change for the better. This change is often recognized by others which can in turn help repair or build healthy relationships and supports.

10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.

  • Active addiction can be described as chaos. This chaos can often be seen in a person’s finances and their ability to cope with financial stressors. This promise does not state that a person will not face financial or interpersonal difficulties. The main point is that they will be better able to manage any difficulties that they encounter.

11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.

  • When in active addiction, difficult situations or stressors are often avoided because they can be perceived as overwhelming. This promise is at the end for a reason. It comes with time. However, this is referring to an ability to cope with difficult situations that would have once been overwhelming.

12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

  • This promise can be connected to previous promises that talk about serenity. Believing in a higher power can help an alcoholic accept that there are things out of their control which often times provides relief. 

What are Some Themes in the AA Promises?

One apparent theme in the 12 promises, is that things will get better if you are working a healthy recovery. The fantastic benefits of a 12-step recovery program are presented to individuals who want them.

Finding hope when at rock bottom can be incredibly difficult for an alcoholic. The darkness can feel daunting and overwhelming. The promises can highlight some of the benefits that they can experience in recovery and maybe help provide motivation that they were otherwise lacking. They can also help provide a sense of encouragement for those who are struggling in the beginning phases of their recovery. Nonetheless, they will always happen if only we work hard for them.

Another theme that you may have picked up on was serenity. The Serenity Prayer is read at each meeting, and many alcoholics choose to recite the prayer throughout their day when needed.

There are many versions of the serenity prayer that can be used, a common version is as follows:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.”

Anxiety can be common experience for individuals in active addiction. Anxiety can contribute to a person feeling as though they need to fix or control different struggles that they face. Learning to relinquish this control is a difficult task that many find worthwhile.

The concept of serenity fits well with the day-by-day approach that you will often find in AA meetings, and literature. As mentioned above, these come with time and practice.

Another theme worth mentioning is Service. This too is a significant part of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. Turning a negative experience you have had into an opportunity to help others in a similar situation can be powerful.

As mentioned above, service does not have to be something extravagant. It can be something as simple as helping set up or clean up for a meeting. For some, service can be working with a sponsee. This will depend on the person, and the time they are able to give. 

If you believe that you may need more help than what AA offers, there are a lot of options to help you recover from alcoholism. Contact a treatment provider today.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


The Harvard Gazette. What makes AA work?. September 12, 2011.

Step 12. Promises -- A.A. Big Book.

North Carolina Law Assistance Program. The Promises of Alcoholics Anonymous. December 12, 2014.

Alcoholics Anonymous. What is AA?.

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